Three and One

A Service Plan for Trinity Sunday

While Scripture never uses the word “Trinity,” it is replete with teaching that underscores that there is one God in three persons. As early Christians struggled with how to describe this mystery, the language of threeness—Trinity—emerged and was adopted. These early struggles to understand the Bible’s teaching on God led to the development of creedal statements like the Nicene and Athanasius Creeds, which became the test of orthodoxy. Today Christians continue to celebrate this mysterious union, speaking of it and acknowledging that the Trinity is active every time we worship. Precisely because the Trinity is so central to our worship and faith, one Sunday a year is set aside to pay it particular attention.

The following service is a great example of how to address the mystery of the three-in-one while praising each person of the Trinity for its work. Additional services and discussion on the subject of Trinity Sunday can be found in RW 23, 43, 47, and 51.  Simply go to and type “Trinity” in the search box. Also see the Q&A on p. 42 of this issue.

Note: The italicized words in grey below are for the pastor/worship leader and include the “in-between words” (see RW 79, p. 18 ff) that aid transitions between worship elements.

God Calls Us to Worship

Call to Worship: Psalm 117
Praise the Lord, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord.

Choir: “Come All You People /Uyai Mose” SNC 4

O God, who created us in love,
create us anew in love as we worship you.
O Jesus Christ, who redeemed this world in love,
reclaim our hearts as we worship you.
O Holy Spirit, who moves this world toward its God-appointed end,
move within us as we worship you.
RW 35, p. 23

God Greets Us: 2 Corinthians 13:13
To his people, God gives this greeting: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

We Greet One Another
As God has welcomed us into his presence through the Son and the Spirit, we welcome each other by saying, “The peace of God be with you.”

We Praise the Triune God

Let us offer our praise to the triune God as we sing this ancient prayer.

Song: “Holy God, We Praise Your Name” PsH 504

Spoken Prayer of Praise
Let us continue our praise by speaking in unison this prayer:
Praise be to you, O God the Father:
You created all things by your power and wisdom
and so loved the world that you gave your Son
to be our Savior.
Praise be to you, O God the Son:
You became human like us in all things, except sin,
died for our offenses,
and rose again for our justification.
Praise be to you, O God the Holy Spirit:
You lead us into all truth
and spread the love of God in our hearts.
All praise and glory be to you, O God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
for ever and ever. Amen.
—The Worship Sourcebook, R.1.4.5

We Confess Our Sins to God

As we attend to the greatness and perfection of God, we become more aware of our own sin. Our loving Father calls us to admit our sin and receive the forgiveness and healing that come through the work of the Son and the Spirit.

Let us tell God what is wrong in our lives and in ourselves, first in silence.

Time of silent confession

Spoken/Sung Confession
[After each confession, the congregation, led by the choir, sings “Forgive us, Lord” (from SNC 59, the first three measures).]
Merciful God,
You have been good to us, but we have not loved you with our whole heart.
Forgive us, Lord.
You call us to return to you, but we fail to listen.
Forgive us, Lord.
You offer us life, but we hunger after that which does not satisfy.
Forgive us, Lord.

You want us to share the Good News about Jesus, but we remain silent.
Forgive us, Lord.
You command us to show mercy, but we walk away from people in need.
Forgive us, Lord.
You teach us what is right, but we tolerate injustice and sin.
Forgive us, Lord.

Choir: SNC 59, st. 4
Deliver us from evil, forgive us, Lord.
For joyful service free us, forgive us, Lord.

Assurance of Pardon: 1 John 2:1-2; 1 John 1:8-9
The first letter of John tells us: “If anyone does sin . . .”
Let’s give thanks to God!

Song: “Praise the Savior, Now and Ever” PsH 400

We Offer Our Gifts and Ourselves to God

In response to God’s goodness to us, let us offer our tithes and offerings to God.


Sung Offertory Prayer: “We Are an Offering” SNC 230

We Hear God’s Word

Prayer for Illumination
During the prayer for illumination, I invite you to hold your hands out with your palms up as a sign of your desire to receive the work of God as we hear God’s Word. Let us pray.
God, our helper,
by your Holy Spirit open our minds
and lead us into your truth
for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
—The Worship Sourcebook, 3.1.14

Old Testament Lesson: Deuteronomy 10:12-22

New Testament Lesson: Ephesians 1:1-14

Gospel Lesson: Mark 1:9-11

[Each reading is introduced with the phrase “The Word of the Lord from . . .” Following the reading, the reader says “The Word of the Lord,” to which the people respond, “Thanks be to God.”]

Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 25
Since there is but one God, why do you speak of three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
Because that is how God has revealed himself in his Word:
these three distinct persons are one, true, eternal God.

Sermon: “Three AND One?”

We Respond to God’s Word

Prayer of Application
Lord God,
by the power of your Spirit
give us strength to live out the message
we have heard today.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
—The Worship Sourcebook, 3.4.8

Athanasian Creed [abridged version from RW 23, p. 44]
Let us stand and confess what we believe using the Athanasian Creed.

Prayers of the People
[After the leader says “Let us pray to the Lord,” the congregation is invited to respond by singing “Lord, hear our prayer” as found in SNC 202]
Let us offer our prayers of intercession to God.
Gracious God,
because we are not strong enough to pray as we should,
you provide Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit
to intercede for us in power.
In this confidence we ask you to accept our prayers.
—Book of Common Worship, p. 103

Let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, hear our prayer.
For peace from on high, and for our salvation,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, hear our prayer.
For the peace of the whole world and the wellbeing of the Church,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, hear our prayer.
For your blessing on this congregation and all who are present,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, hear our prayer.
For wisdom for the leaders of nations,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, hear our prayer.
For the peace and well-being of this city and the people within,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, hear our prayer.
For comfort and strength for those who are sick or suffer, especially [insert specific persons here],
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, hear our prayer.
For the advancement of the gospel in all places,
let us pray to the Lord.
Lord, hear our prayer.
God of glory and power,
as we work and await your new creation,
we trust that you will answer our prayers
with wisdom and grace,
and fulfill your promise that all things
work together for good for those who love you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We Celebrate the Lord’s Supper

[Based on the 1994 Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper from the Christian Reformed Church, available online at]

Song of Preparation: “I Come with Joy to Meet My Lord” PsH 311

The Thanksgiving

Sanctus: “Holy, Holy, Holy Is the Lord of Hosts” SNC 251

The Institution

Sung Proclamation SNC 250

Prayer of Consecration

Sung Prayer: “The Lord’s Prayer” SNC 196

The Invitation

The Communion
[During the distribution of elements, the congregation sings the following:
“Table of Plenty” SNC 247
“Come, Let Us Eat” PsH 303
“Somo Pueblo Que Camina/We Are People on a Journey” SNC 260
“O Jesus, Joy of Loving Hearts” PsH 307

Doxology: “Sing, Choirs of New Jerusalem” PsH 404

God Sends Us Out with His Blessing

Song of Dedication: “Step by Step” SNC 17

God’s Blessing
Go out into the world to proclaim the good news of life in Jesus Christ.
May the God of hope
fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that you may abound in hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
remain with you always.
Alleluia! Amen.




In a Word: Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday is the Sunday after Pentecost dedicated to praising the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Liturgical Color: White (see Q&A, p. 42).

Ellen Van Tongeren ( is a Theological Educator for the theological education programs of the Christian Reformed Church of Honduras, and an ordained pastor of the Christian Reformed Church.

Reformed Worship 83 © March 2007 Worship Ministries of the Christian Reformed Church. Used by permission.